signs of an emotionally abusive relationship

  1. You’re googling Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship and all of it’s variations. Because you’re lost and confused and don’t really know where to turn next.
  2. You’re constantly hoping it’s the last time. It never is.
  3. Everything is your fault. You’ve caused this state of affairs.
  4. Unpredictable anger – unpredictable expressions of big emotions altogether.
  5. Name calling
  6. Intention to hurt, with little or no remorse
  7. “I hate you, don’t leave me” attitude that makes no sense
  8. A desire in yourself to moderate your own behavior in the hopes of moderating theirs
  9. Denial. Of your reality. Constant confusion.
  10. Still wanting to hold on to the good parts. Hoping it will change. Losing hope.

As I write this, I am approaching the two year mark since separating from an abusive ex. The road is complicated, but worth every second, every step, every battle, every breath. I have never felt more happy or more alive in my life.

Life, Part 2 – After the marriage

Hello, old friends. Long time! I’ve missed you… while I’ve been busy finding me ; )

As I write this, I’m sitting in the most beautiful room that ever was, feeling the most peaceful I have ever felt, because it is mine – As Virginia Woolf famously called it, ‘A Room of One’s Own,’ – I have my own place, with my daughter. We’ve settled it, and it is absolutely amazing….

J and I separated 8 months ago. It’s strange to think there was a time when I couldn’t imagine life without him, when now all I remember is the abuse.

In June it will be official – and I am so very ok with June coming.

Sometimes I think I’ve found a nice memory – like the special tea he used to make me when I was sick, or the amazing vacations we took to Cuba, Paris, Mexico. But no sooner have I thought about the nice thing and the bad part comes rushing in with it. The way he yelled at me for not appreciating the tea, or the way he treated me during his fits on every one of those vacations….. Horribly. Even on the Honeymoon and ‘babymoon.’

I’ve thought about the many women (and men) who suffer verbal abuse for years and years with no escape and no name for it. I want to do something about it, but not sure what I could do. It’s such a slippery little topic. So hard to define. And the attitudes you face: Did he hit you though? No… So it’s not ‘actual’ abuse then….

Ok.

Patricia Evans’ definition set me free last summer, while I was recovering: Verbal abuse is a lie told to you about you.

Yep. You are not any of those horrible names/descriptors. And how liberating to be free of those lies.

Back then, and for many months before that, I was blogging pretty regularly. I was going through a huge change from not drinking alcohol and kind of rediscovering myself.  But for the past 8 months – barely a word huh?! I hope you are all doing well on your amazing journeys.

I’m quite happy to report that I am dating an old friend turned new flame… somebody who always liked me and I always liked but we were never single at the same time. It’s a total breath of fresh air… and while I am not moving fast I am enjoying it so incredibly much. This delicious new love.

I know that many of the bloggers I read are quite religious. I am not, but am spiritual… and I just have to say… I am so positively sure that God has been watching over me, and I am so grateful for the guiding light that has led me through all this insanity, into the beauty of a healthy new life.

XOX

 

No way Jose 

I saw him.

I felt fine for a while.

Then I felt like the rug was pulled out from under my progress.

I felt sticky and slimed.

By a slimeball who has no respect for me.

No way Jose.

YOU DON’T TREAT ME WITH RESPECT YOU GET NO PLACE IN MY LIFE.

Thriving through separation and divorce. WTF?

75 DAYS SINCE… You know.

*I am kind of shocked at how well I’m doing and how good I’m feeling and I have a suspicion that separation and divorce is not this pleasant for people who have not been living with abuse. So take this with a grain of salt, anyone reading who has lost their best friend through a broken marriage. I did not really lost my best friend…. but I did lose my worst enemy. 

Right now I’m eating a juicy giant yellow heirloom tomato and enjoying every bite. More than I’ve enjoyed food in years.

Today I built a bird house with my daughter. 

Last week I baked my first pie (it was pretty darn good!) 

Also had a huge milestone at work with an eight month long project coming to fruition, and achieving buy-in from all the very-high-ups.

To top it all off, I’m running and losing a lot of weight. I run minimum twice a week, religiously, for at least 30 minutes, and I’ve entered into a race for charity next Saturday!!

I could tell you about the hard times, the relapses in emotion, the morning anxiety (it’s much better now) — but all that is par for the courses. What’s remarkable is how freakin’ good I”m feeling.

I hope all you fellow bloggers are feeling good too. Even though I’m not writing much these days, I am still so grateful for your support and encouragement through this process. I don’t think I would have been this brave without you. HUGS to you and our virtual friendships!

Here is a list of things that have helped me not just survive but Thrive during this time:

  1. I MOW THE LAWN WITH A SELF-HELP BOOK ON THE iPOD First of all, who knew that a lady could mow a lawn? As you may recall from my former state of dependency, I wasn’t always so self-reliant. But nowadays, every Sunday I take the ol’ mower out of the garage and let ‘er rip. I put my headphones in and let sun beat down on me while I trod along, mow, mow, mow. And since we have a pretty big backyard, by the end of this process I feel nicely tired out, refreshed mentally because of what I’ve been listening to, and generally much better than however I did before. Highly recommend!
  2. I RUN, AND ADD ONE NEW SONG TO MY RUN PLAYLIST EVERY TIME The drastic changes in me from June until now have meant that my playlist is everything from Rage against the Machine to Olivia Newton John to Sia! With some Led Zep mixed in there. And some weird 80’s anthems in there too. HA! But this playlist has come to be a living songbook for my process of grieving, growing, and giving life my all again. I look forward to every run.
  3. I’M LEARNING HOW TO STAY IN THE MOMENT I read (actually listened to) a great book called 10% Happier (a funny skeptical take on meditation and self help) and have also been listening to Pema Chodron’s talk called Getting Unstuck and both of these books have helped me gently resist my own temptation to think about the terror and catastrophe side of what I have been through and could go through. It’s not naive, it’s just practical – to focus on today. Not the terrifying future. Not the unchangeable past. I guess it’s a part of surrender, and a part of trusting. Let Go and Let God. It feels so much better.
  4. I”M MAKING ACQUAINTANCES If I had been through this a few years ago, or any other time in my life, I would have been crying on shoulders, and drowning my sorrows on my next victim, I guarantee it. I have been a serial monogamist. Even in school when I wasn’t with a guy, my best girl friend and I were completely and monogamously joined at the hip. I have never been one to stand on my own two feet – until now. This fall, I am looking forward to making casual friends with the moms at my daughters dance classes or the people who I run alongside in my race. I want to make new friends the old fashion way. Instead of having one person in my life who I am completely ‘one’ with – I want to be one with ME!!! And have lots of people around who know and like me for me. Sounds pretty normal, probably, but it’s new for me.
  5. I’M TRYING NEW THINGS, AND SO EXCITED ABOUT IT! Where have I been all my life, seriously? This marriage, and life on the other side of it has been the biggest wake up call. I want to ski and swim and play guitar and sail and bake more pies and take road trips and learn to salsa and do 10,000 other things that I couldn’t have cared less about before. Because I was an addict. A trapped, programmed, miserable human, looking for happiness in wine glasses, packs of cigarettes and handsome blue eyes. Fuck that. Know what? Life is so many million times better after smoking, drinking and boys. And I am so grateful that I am young enough to still build a wonderful life. Yes ME.

LA VIE EST BELLE. LIFE IS FOR THE LIVING. LOVE TO ALL.

10 Telltale signs of (my) Abusive Marriage

This is one of those “don’t forget, don’t look back” posts… to remind myself, and others. There will be a follow up post to this that is brimming with positivity and corrective measures, I promise!! Right now I’m just feeling the need to recount… in order to heal from it.

It was probably about a month ago, maybe more, that I left the house in tears, desperate crazy flowing tears, to drive myself off a cliff, or into a wall, or into the lake…. (I didn’t, obviously, but that feeling was getting all too familiar.)

I was constantly feeling so trapped, so miserable, so hurt, so brutalized, so assassinated – that I was losing my will to live. J would be raging, and usually have brought or daughter into it somehow so that is was them vs. me (in his mind). I thought if I exited, she might be saved, because I was the problem.

A while before that, probably a few months, I had brought a belt down to the basement and tried to figure out how to hang myself.

Thankfully, I couldn’t figure it out, but that re-enforced my feeling of being a total and complete failure, as he told me many times that I was. I was a worthless piece of shit. Couldn’t even figure out how to off myself. He’d even have to figure that out for me……. I was that useless. 

As I look back on it, I wonder what was it about the situation that made me want to die? Not leave town (couldn’t, daughter), not drink (been there done that), not run to the arms of another man (no thank you). I wanted desperately to die. To kill the pain. It was the result of MANY, MANY red flags compounded and ignored over the years.

———— Brutal! And guys, let me just temper this with a little character explanation….  I have never been a suicidal person AT ALL. There was this one time in high school that I slept with my window open in winter because I was so upset about something I just hoped the winter wind would ‘take me’ — LOL — that was as close as I had ever come to feeling suicidal. *comic relief?? takes deep breath*

So how on earth, many years later, did I end up with a man who valued me so little, and de-valued me so actively that I wanted to kill myself?

I know that people who have been in marriages like mine will identify with that feeling of losing themselves…. it’s the slow transformation from reality as you knew it to this other state – almost constant bewilderment and confusion. Self-doubt. An utterly crumpled sense of self – and a vague memory of who you used to be – or thought you were.

I felt crippled, up until a few weeks ago. When he was taken away.

I’m still working through how I got to that terrible place. And I’ve only had one therapy session which is about 24 shy of how many I probably need right now!!!

But my early sense of it is this – and please let it be a warning to anyone in a similar position. It is a mix of things that I did and he did, resulting in a terrible, terrible state of affairs:

10 Telltale sign of (my) Abusive Marriage

1. He called me names like useless, selfish, black hole, and regularly reminded me what a worthless person I was. He openly disregarded my feelings, including when I lost a close family member last year. He would say things like “poor you” to mock how I felt. RED FLAG

2. I allowed huge violations of myself by apologizing, rationalizing, placating, forgetting, absolving, and otherwise loving him after treating me like garbage.

3. He demonstrated no remorse for having hurt me, ever.

4. I did not stand up for things that were a part of me; friendships, music, movies, experiences.

5. He made no effort to improve himself or the relationship, but actively complained about me and my character. For years. Our old therapist called his behaviour ‘constructive dismissal’ – a form of termination by hostility. 

6. I ignored my own instincts in favour of excuses. He was stressed, he was depressed…. it would get better….

7. He escalated fights in his own mind, and would come back to things after a rest angrier. Sometimes months and years later, he would still be able to jump right in to previous fights with no sign of calming/forgiving/forgetting…. If a topic came up in a restaurant, he would yell at me in the restaurant. It happened many times.

8. I used deflection and defence instead of assertiveness, most of the time. My poor attempts to say ‘not ok’ fell on deaf, angry ears.

9. He was consistently attracted to me and loyal to me, but not respectful of me. Major mind fuckage territory.

10. I regularly felt suicidal. Because together, with my permission and his behaviour, we were complicit in the slow and purposeful assassination of me. Myself and my soul. And PEOPLE – anyone still suffering – there is nobody in the whole wide world who can stop that but you. You are yours, and you are the only steward of your own ship. Steer it well. Take care. There is life after toxic love. Real life, real love….. shouldn’t hurt at all, nevermind hurt so bad you want to die.

100 Followers, 100 Thank Yous!

Dearest YOU,  Blogger Community…. Thank You For Following! 

I never could have imagined that an anonymous blog could be so cathartic… and healing… and rewarding. It means so much to me! (Like, maybe too much? LOL)

100-likes-badge-wordpress

Fellow bloggers – you are AWESOME!!!! 100 Followers strong and every single follow has brought me more strength and more courage. 

Through you I am able to feel confident, where all my confidence had been lost.

Through you I am connected, where before I was feeling so isolated.

Through you I remember who I am and see the beauty of being-true-to-oneself through reading about who you are.

Through you I believe that a ‘better life’ is possible, if I believe.

Because of you I feel even more able to stand on my own two feet for the first time in my whole entire life. As long as I can be me, and you can be you – nothing can really go wrong.

I started this blog because I was quitting drinking in an effort to save my marriage. I was also going through the process of publishing my book (still am). And to top it all off, I was adjusting to a new life in luxury travel marketing at a pretty swanky organization (still adjusting, it’s a pretty intimidating world! We have yacht sized conference room tables! ).

But a few weeks ago, my life changed massively and permanently, and don’t think I would have been able to escape my situation without this blog in the background, and all of you somehow rooting for me? I have felt secure somehow, in this nest of non-judgemental bloggers who all have their own human struggles!

I have not regretted. I have barely cried. I have barely stopped mind you!! But I know I am moving in the direction of becoming a healthier, saner, more balanced person – and mother – who will be better equipped to give something back to the world for having gone through it.

In honour of you all I am going to start sharing some of the strength I have been gathering… tonight I’ve decided that I’m going to start volunteering at a women’s shelter. Through all of this, I have been aware that having a great job is a MAJOR difference between what happens to me next and what happens to women without financial security. I pledge to share this strength with others…. and help empower more people to say no to suffering, say yes to life…. and become the beautiful people they were born be.